Familiarity and Execution: The two, foremost themes heading into NLDS Game 5 between the Dodgers and Giants

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–The biggest game in the long history between the Giants and Dodgers is here. Twice, the Giants struck first, and the Dodgers answered emphatically both times. Now in Game 5, only one statement remains to be made. Which team will win this epic series with all of the baseball world focused on Oracle Park Thursday night?

The Dodgers took the first, and biggest gamble of the series on Tuesday, in bringing back Walker Buehler on short rest to start Game 4. And Buehler delivered. That allows Los Angeles to now start Julio Urias on regular rest, opposite the Giants’ Logan Webb in Game 5. Manager Dave Roberts said he eyeballed Buehler, and what he saw made the manager’s decision easy.

“I would feel really weird not pitching a game that we could lose a series,” Buehler said in explaining the vibe he sent to Roberts.

“Sometimes when you might be a little bit more fatigued and not too amped up or too strong, you kind of try not to do too much,” Roberts said of his ace’s Game 4 performance. “And all night long he stayed in his delivery. All the stuff — the velocity, the characteristics of his secondary pitches — was really good.”

Both starters for Thursday have already won a game in the series. Logan Webb was spectacular in Game 1, pitching into the eighth inning and forcing the Dodgers’ hitters into uncharacteristic mistakes. Urias had a shorter stint in Game 2, pitching five innings and allowing three hits and a run. But when Urias departed, the Dodgers were already in control, leading 2-1 in a game they would break open in the sixth, and win 9-2.

For the Giants, the questions are clear: Can Webb summon the magic a second time? And can the San Francisco bullpen support him when he departs? The odds of both happening are good.

Webb remains a problem for any ballclub that steps into Oracle Park. He’s yet to lose a ballgame at home (6-0, 1.96 ERA in 73 1/3 innings in 2021, not including his 7 1/3 scoreless innings in Game 1), and his unwavering demeanor and penchant for dialing up strikeouts will energize the sold out crowd on Thursday. The only issue? Los Angeles’ hitters were undisciplined in Game 1. This time, they will challenge Webb to be at his absolute best this time by only swinging at baseballs in the strike zone.

Overall, the Giants’ pitching staff has done some good things. They’ve kept the Dodgers’ best hitters from leaving the park. Only two Dodgers have homered in the Series: Will Smith has two, and Mookie Betts greeted Giants’ reliever Jarlin Garcia with bad news in the fourth inning on Wednesday night. A host of other Los Angeles sluggers have been left frustrated trying to drive one out, especially in Game 3. For the Giants, that needs to continue.

Also, the Giants’ pitchers that have shown some vulnerability most assuredly won’t throw in the deciding game. Starters Kevin Gausman and Anthony DeSclafani both must turn the page, and get ready for the next round if the Giants advance. Dominic Leone and Garcia have both had a pair of substandard appearances.

So that leaves Camilo Doval, the re-emerging Jake McGee, and Zach Littell as top options for Gabe Kapler if the Giants’ are fortunate to reap high-leverage situations in Game 5 after Webb departs. Littell–awful in Game 2, but lights out in Game 4–is the most intriguing. He’s a trusted arm, and Kapler is likely to forget his Game 2 hiccup, and remember his four strikeouts in an inning plus on Tuesday.

The Dodgers also will be in great shape to unearth a well-pitched game in the decider as well. Urias, the 20-game winner will start, and the best bullpen in baseball will follow. All signs point to a tense, low scoring game.

From a hitting standpoint, the Giants will have all-hands on deck, but they’ll likely depend on the most familiar suspects against Urias. Both Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey had hits off Urias in Game 2, and Austin Slater will likely earn another start in right field against the Dodgers’ left handed starter. Slater, too, doubled off Urias in Game 2.

Darin Ruf (left field) and Wilmer Flores (first base) will likely be in Kapler’s starting lineup, as will Kris Bryant, who has picked up his game after a lackluster end of the regular season, giving his manager tremendous versatility.

“A bat of that caliber and that quality, and knowing that they can play anywhere and they are going to be ready to go gives us the flexibility to do a lot of things,” Kapler said of Bryant. “So I guess it’s not just Kris, but also what that does for the rest of the roster and how we can construct our lineups.”

The defending champion Dodgers are easier to decipher. Betts, Trea Turner, Corey Seager and the youthful, but dangerous Smith can each be the one to individually or collaboratively ruin the evening for San Francisco fans on Thursday. And don’t forget Justin Turner either. He’s done almost nothing in the series thus far–hitting .059–but he undoubtedly will be in the Roberts’ lineup and a serious threat to come up clutch in a big spot.

The Skinny On The Giants-Dodgers Division Title Race For The Ages: You don’t wanna finish second

By Morris Phillips

You don’t want to finish second. For the Giants and the Dodgers, winning the NL West is paramount.

Here’s why.

Barring a minor miracle–but also a real possibility–the first postseason meeting of the long time rivals begins on Friday, October 8, a full four days after the regular season ends on that previous Sunday. The best case scenario for both teams: they win the NL West outright, and get all four of those days to rest and set up their Operation World Series ’21 war room in which they align their rotations, rest key regulars and stay out of COVID protocols. Beyond that, the NL West winner would have time to develop a strategy to derail their rival in a seven-game series, then roll two more high-level opponents on their way to a Series title.

Now back to the minor miracle/real possibility that could evaporate one of these two 100 plus-win teams before October 8: a loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, the almost certain, second wild card entrant currently riding an eight-game win streak that has all but retired the competition with two weeks remaining in the regular season. What would the Cardinals have to do to pull an upset? Summon the perpetual youth tonic for 40-year old Adam Wainwright and his battery mate, 39-year old Yadier Molina, who would be slotted to pitch and catch the Wednesday, October 6 wild card game as the only pair manager Mike Schildt–or the state of Missouri–would trust in such a situation. In a separate slice of baseball history, Wainwright and Molina have paired as battery mates 298 times. The October 6 clash would see them likely pairing for the 301st time, which ranks fourth in major league history for the most prolific catcher and pitcher pairings.

Wainright (16-7, 2.89 ERA) has a win against both the Dodgers and Giants this season (beating Los Angeles at Busch Stadium on September 8) although he was roughed up in the rematch against the Giants on July 16.

Think the stakes are high in these final two weeks for the Giants and Dodgers? Think higher.

The Giants are trying to secure the apex of their franchise history (which dates back to 1883 as the New York Gothams) by winning a fourth World Series in 12 seasons, a rash of success never accomplished by a franchise that’s won eight titles in 137 seasons.

For the Dodgers, who have had far more success at this level, this would mark some level of redemption after their well-chronicled postseason flame outs beginning in 2013. On the line for the Dodgers: an unprecedented ninth, consecutive division title, back-to-back Series titles, and the fulfillment of their stature as the team widely considered to be Major League baseball’s best.

Currently, the Giants have a one-game lead with 12 games remaining for both contenders. The teams will be on the road this week, and home next week, six road games then six home games. Amazingly, Baseball-Reference–the premiere MLB website chronicling the game’s history and all of its current metrics–favors the Giants to win the division with a 104-58 record, besting the Dodgers, who according to their database, are most likely to finish 103-59.

If you been following this race intently, you know those won-loss figures are extremely conservative and predict that neither team will win at their current clips, which are best described as torrid. The Dodgers since losing six of nine (four of those six losses to the Giants) at the end of July, have won 34 of 45. The Giants have won 13 of their last 17 ballgames after a four-game losing streak spanning the end of August and beginning of September.

Most likely, both managers (Gabe Kapler and Dave Roberts) are hoping for fast finishes with a record of 9-3 or better. For the Giants (97-53) that’s the safe spot. 106 wins should be the number the Dodgers can’t match. Of course, 105 might be just what the doctor ordered for the Dodgers (96-52). Obviously, it’s just that close.

Now for what might happen after game 162 with the caveat that neither of these teams is fearful of playing a big game in the other team’s ballpark. Both have had too much success, and have won too consistently (with pitching) to feel any other way. That’s why one (Los Angeles) or both teams may not scared to finish second, and get ready for the postseason without the burden of overusing their bullpens, starters or key starters.

But here’s why they would.

Playing on Monday–Game 163–burns a critical starter who would otherwise be primed to pitch Game 1 of the NLDS. For the Giants, based on how the rotations are set up (and there’s little reason for either team to dramatically juggle their rotations with the aces in line to pitch the final weekend or on that following Monday) Logan Webb would likely be a one-game playoff starter, Julio Urias (18-3, 2.99, the NL Cy Young favorite) would be most likely for the Dodgers.

The loser of Game 163 would then host the Wild Card game Wednesday and assume the challenge presented by the Cardinals. Then after burning two prime starters, they would open the NLDS as the visitor on Friday.

Does the second place scenario offer a reasonable path for success? Sure, for either of these balanced clubs. But potentially, playing eight, consecutive Dodgers-Giants games doesn’t set you up to play exceptional baseball for three weeks–against two, more formidable opponents–after that.

So, in conclusion… if 2021 is your year, the “your” part starts now.

And the quote of the weekend from Kris Bryant of the Giants: “I feel like we’ve been playing great baseball, and they have been matching us. That’s annoying.”

On Tuesday, the Giants open up a three-game set in San Diego against the frustrated, fussing, faltering Padres with Kevin Gausman facing Joe Musgrove. Gausman will be pitching with four days rest, Musgrove with five.

Giants break losing spell with 5-1 win over Milwaukee, enter showdown with LA tied atop the NL West

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–Big moments against the best performers. If you’re a San Francisco Giant, this is your official welcome to September baseball.

Darin Ruf had his moment first. With the Giants in a tense, and speedy 1-1 tie in the eighth inning, Ruf delivered a two-run double off Devin Williams, a lights-out setup man for the Brewers, who hadn’t allowed a run of any kind since June 23.

Six pitches after that, Thairo Estrada joined Ruf in the baseball cauldron by delivering a three-run homer that iced a 5-1 win for the Giants. That blast was only the fifth allowed by Williams this season, and the first to a right-handed hitter.

“The boys came hot late,” starter Logan Webb said. “It was fun to watch.”

Fun to watch, and absolutely essential. The win broke a four-game slide for the Giants, and allows them to enter Friday’s showdown with the Dodgers in a dead heat atop the NL West at 85-49. 28 games remain in the season, and only the next three are between the two, hated rivals. That means a lot of scoreboard watching and divided attention to come for the rest of the month.

“It’s a good boost of confidence going into the next series, but obviously, all of our attention and focus was on today’s game,” manager Gabe Kapler said.

The Giants were locked into a pitcher’s duel through seven innings with Webb, arguably the NL’s hottest starting pitcher dueling with Milwaukee’s unheralded Eric Lauer. Lauer allowed three hits and struck out four, with Austin Slater’s first pitch of the outing home run as his only blemish. Webb had sliders darting in and out of the strike zone for seven innings like clockwork, striking out 10 in a dominant outing in which he only allowed Jace Peterson’s RBI single in the fourth.

But by the eighth, both starters were gone, and both teams were scratching for a win as hard as they could.

The Giants caught a break when Kris Bryant was initially called out trying to steal second base, but a replay that needed all the looks and angles possible, reversed the call. After Brandon Belt drew a walk, Ruf struck with his lead-providing double, and Estrada left his mark as the next batter. Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell sat through it all–the replay and the meltdown of his top reliever–but remained philosophical.

In the end, I think they got that call right,” Counsell said. “When a guy that’s 75 feet away from the call gets the call reversed, it’s just a little suspicious. So that was my argument, but they got it right.”

The Giants open the series with the Dodgers on Friday with Anthony DeSclafani facing David Price.

Webb, Wade help give Giants their biggest NL West lead of the season in a 7-0 romp over the Rockies

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–German Marquez may be on pace for his most wins in his six major league seasons along with his first All-Star Game appearance last month, but he can’t beat the Giants.

Marquez is 0-4 against the Giants this year with a 13.82 ERA, and last night’s 7-0 drubbing at Oracle Park may have been his worst outing yet against the G-Men. Against everyone, Marquez is 10-9 with a 3.77 ERA.

“I continue to make my pitches and continue to work, but I’m really not sure,” Marquez answered when asked about his struggles against San Francisco.

 “He was really focused tonight to turn the tide on these guys,” manager Bud Black said of German. “It’s just that he didn’t make any pitches.”

In his career, German is 4-9 against the Giants with an ERA of 7.19. But in his six years in Denver, he’s never seen a Giants’ team this good. Or a Giants’ team that treats him this bad. On Thursday, German expended 81 pitches to get through four innings, capped off by a six-run outburst in which everything the Giants hit was hit hard. Lamonte Wade Jr. typified the inning with a 430-foot bomb above Triples Alley where home runs rarely land. In fact, experienced Giants’ hitters know not to elevate pitches in that area of the ballpark because they usually result in frustrating outs.

But the fourth inning on Thursday was its own animal for Marquez. After Brandon Belt was retired, Brandon Crawford, Mike Yastrzemski and Curt Casali reached on hard-hit balls. Alex Dickerson was intentionally walked to get to pitcher Logan Webb, but Webb disrupted that strategy with a two-run single that traveled 399 feet and almost got out. Wade followed with his blast that had him looking like Barry Bonds with the poor location of the pitch and his classic swing follow through. Wade’s ball left the yard at 107 mph.

I joke around saying I’m gonna hit a home run and I almost did,” Webb said afterwards.

Webb was just as impressive with his pitching performance in which he went six innings, allowing three hits and striking out eight. Webb has become the Giants’ best pitcher of late by stringing together four, consecutive quality starts while the other starters have had their post All-Star break struggles. Webb is 4-0 at Oracle Park and his strikeout totals (17 combined) in his last two outings are eye-opening.

“Ever since he came off the IL, he’s been an absolute gem on the mound and a bulldog,” Curt Casali said of Webb.

The Giants increased their lead in the NL West to five games with the win, the first time they’ve held a lead that large this season. They’ve won five straight and 10 of 12 to improve their major-league best mark to 74-41. The Giants haven’t had a won-loss record this good after 115 games since 1993 when Dusty Baker’s first year as manager saw them open 77-38.

On Friday, the Giants turn to Anthony DeSclafani in a matchup with Austin Gomber. DeSclafani hasn’t won any of his last four starts since beating the Washington Nationals on July 10.

College roommates Yastrzemski and Gray meet again in Giants 6-3 win over the Reds

By Morris Phillips

Hey, a solo shot’s no big deal.

Sonny Gray and Mike Yastrzemski, college roommates at Vanderbilt a decade ago, didn’t have an opportunity to hash it out on Monday night. Yaz took Gray deep in the fifth inning to put the Giants up, 4-0, but by that point, the Reds couldn’t catch the ball, and the Giants were in full swing, doing their traveling home run show thing.

In other words, bigger issues were at hand then reminiscing about old conversations in college.

“I don’t think it fazed him,” Yastrzemski said of Gray’s reaction to the home run among friends. “We always talked about it and he said if I hit a homer in a game off him, it had to be a solo shot. So I don’t think he’s too mad about it. It’s something I hope we’ll eventually look back and give each other grief about and have fun with it.”

Just not on Monday. What was more pressing were the Reds’ recent struggles that have them losing lopsided contests, while the Giants have been surging, just what’s been needed to keep the club in first place with the Padres and Dodgers breathing down their necks.

After the 6-3 Giants win at Great American Ballpark, Gray was dead serious while reliving his inability to keep the hard-hitting Giants from going deep while needing to explain his defenses shortcomings behind him. For the record, Gray allowed two home runs while the Reds committed two damaging errors.

“A pitcher’s job is to continue to try to make pitches, make competitive pitches and continue to try to force soft contact,” Gray admitted. “There were some plays that maybe could have been made that weren’t. It was just sloppy. Like I said, it started with me.”

Gray surrendered a walk and two singles in a busy first inning that didn’t go wrong until Jonathan India couldn’t field Brandon Crawford’s ground ball cleanly, and compounded his mistake with an errant throw allowing Buster Posey to score the game’s first run.

In the fourth, Wilmer Flores went opposite field off Gray to put the Giants up 3-0, but the blast was preceded by Eugenio Suarez’ fielding error that allowed Crawford to reach. Yastrzemski’s homer came an inning later, the culmination of Gray’s outing that wasn’t good enough above or below the surface.

The Giants flew above the minutiae with the homers, now numbering 39 away from Oracle Park, which leads the majors in home runs hit by a club on the road. That the total didn’t stall at the cozy, riverfront ballpark made a statement. The Giants hit ’em, and combined with stingy defense and pitching, a winning formula has emerged.

So far, it’s a formula that’s kept the more talented Dodgers and Padres in the rear view. All three clubs won Monday, and the Giants maintained their division lead, a half game better than San Diego, and two games ahead of the Dodgers.

Meanwhile, the Reds are 6-6 in their last 12 games, but they’ve allowed at least six runs in each of the losses, none of which have been by fewer than three runs, including 9-2 and 9-0 routs. The Reds have gone more than a month with a losing record, having last been over .500 on April 21.

Logan Webb enjoyed his best start if the season, cruising through six, scoreless innings by keeping Reds’ hitters off balance with a nice mix of sinkers, sliders and fastballs delivered at an aggressive pace. Webb was tight-lipped about the strategy after the game, with the exception of extolling his quick pace. He also clarified his abrupt exit, saying his shoulder soreness concerned manager Gabe Kapler enough that he lifted his pitcher despite the fact he still had plenty in his tank.

Kapler said the Giants will conduct tests on Webb’s shoulder in the coming days, but he didn’t seem concerned that his pitcher could miss time.

The Giants continue their four-game set in Cincinnati on Tuesday with Anthony DeSclafani facing the struggling Luis Castillo, saddled with a 1-5 record and 7.71 ERA.

Playoff Push: Dubon’s homer gives Giants the edge in 7-2 win over the Rockies

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–Winning formulas never get old, so the Giants reached in the well one more time.

Beating sub .500 teams at home with offense has become a reoccurring theme for San Francisco, and it surfaced again Wednesday night in a 7-2 win over the Rockies. The Giants have won 15 of 19 at Oracle Park with most of the wins just like this one.

Mauricio Dubon hit a three-run homer in the seventh to break up a 2-2 tie, and send the Giants to a second win in this critical four-game series starting the regular season’s final week. With the Cardinals, Marlins and Brewers losing in the tightly-bunched NL playoff hunt, the Giants assumed the eighth and final spot with five games remaining.

“You’re playing meaningful baseball and every hit, every run, every home run, every catch you make counts,” Dubon said. “That’s the fun part of it.”

Dubon’s game-altering shot came two pitches after manager Bud Black lifted starter Ryan Castellani in the fifth, in which he allowed a leadoff double to Alex Dickerson, then walked two of the next four batters, allowing the Giants to tie the score, 2-2.

Yency Almonte relieved and watched Dubon send his slider over the left field wall. Dubon’s was the biggest of the Giants 11 hits, five of which went for extra bases including Evan Longoria’s solo shot that got the Giants on the board for the first time in the fourth.

“The pitch to Dubón was a slider the just didn’t get to the outside part of the plate,” Black said. “It didn’t get away from the barrel. The kid dropped the head on it, got it up in the air. He squared it up.”

The Giants have had their way with losing clubs, winning 22 of 33. They’re 27-11 when they score at least four runs.

Mike Yastrzemski continues to mend his calf, which has caused to miss the last five games. His primary replacement, rookie Luis Basabe injured his hamstring on Tuesday, and is expected to miss the remainder of the regular season and at least two rounds of the playoffs. Steven Duggar was summoned from Sacramento to replace Basabe.

Caleb Baragar started for the Giants, pitching just the first inning as the opener. Logan Webb took over in the second and pitched five, solid innings to get the win. Baragar’s appearance marked the first time the Giants have employed an opener this season, after Bruce Bochy employed the strategy a couple of times in 2019.

Dodgers, Kershaw bring Giants’ seven-game streak to a halt, win 7-0 in doubleheader opener

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–Bookmark the Clayton Kershaw-Brandon Belt matchup as today’s barometer for success… or failure.

After the Dodgers and Giants took Tuesday night off in a historic and emotional occasion of social activism, pitching and hitting returned in a big way with the Giants trying to extend their seven-game, offense-fueled win streak against Kershaw, the most successful starting pitcher of the last decade, and by far, the guy the Giants and Belt least like to see on the mound.

Now the numbers available to both managers prior to the first game of the unique, seven-inning doubleheader.

Belt, in one of the finest, offensive showings in his career (9 plus seasons) had four hits, including two homers, a double in the Giants’ epic 10-8 win over the Dodgers in 11 innings on Tuesday.

Kershaw has owned Belt, allowing the slugger four hits and four walks, no home runs in 60 career at-bats, 29 of which concluded in a strikeout.

Manager Gabe Kapler didn’t flinch. He penciled Belt into the sixth spot in his lineup, a nod to Belt’s 16 hits and .571 batting average over his last nine games. Wilmer Flores, Kapler’s less edgy option to start at first base, found his way to lineup as well, playing second base and batting second.

Against Kershaw–rounding into form after a rough start against the Giants at Dodgers Stadium earlier in the month–none of Kapler’s lineup mechanics worked.

Kershaw gave up hard hit balls to both Belt and Flores in their initial at-bats only to see centerfielder Clay Bellinger come up with spectacular catches both times. From there, Kershaw cruised, pitching six, scoreless innings in a 7-0 shutout that left the assembled cutouts speechless.

Kershaw owns the Giants, winning for the 24th time in 49 starts, while his ERA against the Giants dropped to 1.76. Needing seven strikeouts to reach 2,500 in his career, Kershaw registered just four, evidence that as his velocity has decreased, his craftiness has expanded.

Belt finished 0 for 3 with a strikeout, and Flores was 1 for 3 as no Giants hitter was afforded more than three opportunities in a seven-inning game. Joey Bart was hitless as well, striking out all three times, the first time swinging on top of Kershaw’s slider, the second time frozen as the pitcher’s curve dropped in.

The Dodgers kept the fireworks to a minimum with their bats, pushing across a run in the first, and four more in the fourth. Austin Barnes came up with the biggest hit, a double chasing home Chris Taylor and Joc Pederson.

A.J. Pollock’s two-run shot in the seventh concluded the scoring.

Logan Webb suffered the loss as he was unable to replicate his strong start against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Webb pitched into the fourth inning, allowing four hits, two walks and five earned runs.

Giants dig too deep of a hole in 6-4 loss to the Astros, fall to 2-6 on road trip

By Morris Phillips

The series opener at Minute Maid Park afforded the struggling Giants one of two scenarios:

A well-placed opportunity against a good club on a bad stretch in the Astros, just off an ugly brawl and getting swept in Oakland, another distraction for the Major League’s most burdened ballclub in recent memory. Add to that Monday’s starter Lance McCullers Jr. sporting an alarming 9.22 ERA after three starts…

Or another sobering example of the marginally talented Giants being dealt too many road games against contending clubs in unforgiving stadiums in the first 20 games of a gone-before-you-know-it, 60-game season.

A 6-4 loss had the Giants firmly relegated to the second rendering with the Astros blasting off to 6-0 lead only to hang on as pinch hitter Evan Longoria lined out to end it with runners at the corners. McCullers was at his best, carrying a no-hitter into the seventh, after he allowed a career-worst eight runs in his last start.

The 26-year old right-hander retired 19 of the first 20 Giants he faced, with the one hiccup a hit-by-pitch facing Austin Slater leading off the third inning. Donovan Solano broke up McCullers’ gem with a sharply-hit grounder that eluded third baseman Alex Bregman and went for a double.

“We needed a win tonight. We needed to start the homestand on a big, positive note and we did that,” said McCullers, who missed the 2019 season due to Tommy John surgery.

While the Giants couldn’t buy a hit, they stacked up the errors, two by Solano filling in at third, and one by catcher Chadwick Tromp, all in the first four innings. Those miscues made life tough for starter Logan Webb, who was charged with five runs, only two of which were earned, before he was lifted in the fourth inning.

“I think he can be proud of going through that lineup and not really giving up on much hard contact,” manager Gabe Kapler said in Webb’s defense. “I think we have better in us behind him that’s for sure.”

Connor Menez steadied the Giants with two plus innings of relief marred only by Martin Maldonado’s solo shot. That homer was the 28th allowed by Giants’ pitching, and it marked the 15th consecutive game they’ve allowed at least one home run, tying an ignominious  franchise record for the second time.

Solano’s double extended his hit streak to 15 games. He doubled again in the ninth, part of the Giants’ three-run rally to make things interesting. The 32-year old Solano is hitting .458, second only to Charlie Blackmon at .484 in the majors.

The Giants are 4-8 on the road, with all 12 road games at Dodgers Stadium, Coors Field and Minute Maid Park, traditionally tough places to play. The Giants’ stretch of 14 of 20 on the road to start the season ends on Wednesday.

Tyler Anderson starts Tuesday for the Giants on a matchup against Houston’s Brandon  Bielak.



San Francisco Giants podcast with Morris Phillips: Giants finish season with winning road record; Webb has good pitching performance

photo from sfgate.com: San Francisco Giants’ Logan Webb pitches against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Atlanta.

On the Giants podcast with Morris:

#1 The Giants avoided getting swept by the Atlanta Braves in Cobb County Sunday with a 4-1 win. The Giants added two runs in the top of the sixth. Joey Rickard doubled on a line drive to Nick Markakis. Both Evan Longoria and Kevin Pillar scored on the play. San Francisco snatched a 3-0 lead.

#2 The Giants’ away record was better than their home record away they were 42-39 and home 33-42. The bulk of the Giants’ road success came after the July 31st trade deadline and in August when they hit a speed bump and lost momentum.

#3 For San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy, it was his final road game managing.  Bochy notched his 2,000 win of his career when the Giants were in Boston prior to coming to play the Braves.

#4 One of the biggest highlights on the trip was the home run hit by Mike Yastrzemski in Boston Tuesday night, which drew a standing ovation from the Boston crowd — kind of like their own homage indirectly for Mike’s grandfather Carl.

#5 The Giants conclude the 2019 season at Oracle Park on the homestand. The Giants will open against the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday night for three games and finish the season with the Los Angeles Dodgers for three starting on Friday night. Starting for Colorado, Jeff Hoffman (2-6, 2.71 ERA), and for the Giants, Madison Bumgarner (9-9, 3.86 ERA).

Morris did the Giants podcasts each Monday during the 2019 Giants season and will begin Cal Bears podcasting next Monday, September 30th at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Anonymous Giants not nearly established enough to top the steadier Pirates, lose 6-3

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–A franchise record 62 players have suited up for the Giants this year, and it’s not just difficult to figure out who’s who.

On nights like Wednesday, it’s difficult to determine who’s supposed to do what, and when they’re supposed to do it. The visiting Pirates had a better grasp on all that, built an early lead and emerged with a 6-3 win.

The Giants used six pitchers, benched Buster Posey, lifted Brandon Belt for a pinch-hitter, and intended to lean heavily on rookie starter Logan Webb. The Pirates stuck with their same youth-infused crew that lead them to wins in 11 of their previous 18 games. Jose Osuna led their attack with a pair of doubles, and three runs scored.

“We’re out to win every game,” manager Clint Hurdle said of his Pirates. “There’s winning and losing, and there’s winning and learning. And if you’re losing and not learning, you’re wasting your time. You’ll get run out of this game.  So there’s lessons to be learned, and I think we’ve been able to have solid reviews when things haven’t gone our way.”

The Pirates’ intentions all came to fruition, while the Giants experienced multiple, embarrassing moments. Webb uncorked a pair of wild pitches in the Pirates two-run second, and was gone before finishing five innings. The rookie made his fifth start, and he’s lost twice and received two no-decisions since winning his initial big-league start on August 17.

Six relievers followed Webb, and the group acquitted themselves admirably, allowing two hits and two runs over the final four plus frames. But their efforts couldn’t affect the outcome, as the Giants were held to three singles, two of those in their three-run, fifth inning. The rest of the night was rooted in frustration, as the team came up with just one hit across seven opportunities with a runner in scoring position.

“Three hits, it’s tough to win a ballgame,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “You got to take advantage of those innings were we had them on the ropes. The strikeouts got us there. The leadoff walk, the two-out walk, they all came back to haunt us.”

The Giants have dropped eight of their previous 10 home games, and are now nine games below .500 at home on the season. Their three hits were their fewest at Oracle Park since July 19.

If there’s a theme running through this series with one game remaining Thursday, it’s the superior performance of the Pittsburgh bullpen, which has allowed one hit while registering 13 strikeouts. The Giants have failed to score a run in any of the 11 plus innings that the Pirates’ bullpen has pitched.

On Thursday, the Giants will turn to Jeff Samardzija in a matchup with Pittsburgh’s Joe Musgrove, who will be making his first appearance on the mound since July 31.